Apodaca Prison Riot

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2/19/2012
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The Apodaca prison riot occurred on 19 February 2012 at a prison in Apodaca, Nuevo León, Mexico. Mexico City officials stated that at least 44 people were killed, with another twelve injured. The Blog del Narco, a blog that documents events and people of the Mexican Drug War anonymously, reported that the actual (unofficial) death toll may be more than 70 people. The fight was between Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, two drug cartels that operate in northeastern Mexico. The governor of Nuevo León, Rodrigo Medina, mentioned on 20 February 2012 that 30 inmates escaped from the prison during the riot. Four days later, however, the new figures of the fugitives went down to 29. On 16 March 2012, the Attorney General's Office of Nuevo León confirmed that 37 prisoners had actually escaped on the day of the massacre. One of the fugitives, Óscar Manuel Bernal alias La Araña (The Spider), is considered by the Mexican authorities to be "extremely dangerous," and is believed to be the leader of Los Zetas in the municipality of Monterrey. Some other fugitives were also leaders in the organization. The fight broke out around 2:00 am local time between inmates in one high security cell block and inmates of another security cell block. The guards of the prison allowed the Zeta members to surge from Cellblock C into Cellblock D and attack the Gulf Cartel members, who were sleeping. A guard was taken hostage during the melee, and mattresses were set on fire. Security personnel regained control of the prison by 6:00 am. Each cell block contained roughly 750 inmates, with members of rival drug cartels normally separated. Not all the prisoners were able to be counted, but by the time the dead prisoners were counted, the public security spokesperson speculated that the riot may have been started as a cover for a jail break. It was later confirmed that the riot and brawl "served as cover for a massive jailbreak" for the members of the Zetas drug cartel, who attacked the Gulf Cartel inmates. According to The Wall Street Journal and El Universal, the mass murder in Apodaca is the deadliest prison massacre in Mexico's history. Milenio news, in addition, mentioned that the prisons in the state of Nuevo León are plagued with violence, and that they are "under the control of the criminal groups" that operate in the area. The Apodaca prison was built to house 1,500 inmates, but had around 3,000 incarcerated at the time of the riot. After the split of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas in early 2010, both groups have been battling for Monterrey and other areas in northeastern Mexico. And although no firearms were used in the fight between the two groups, the fact that their turf war goes as far as to Mexico's prison system only "emphasizes the bitterness of their rivalry." More importantly, however, the massacre, and the involvement of the prison guards in the escape, highlights the problems facing Mexico's—and the rest of Latin America's—prison system.
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Apodaca prison massacre
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